NOVEMBER 17, 2021
PSR Member News, Action Updates, Anti-Nuclear and California Policy Watch, and More
During the first two weeks of November, as we watched Congress haggle over Biden’s infrastructure and Build Back Better plans, oil executives testify at congressional hearings attempting to hold them accountable, and world leaders posture at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26), we were painfully aware of how crucial our efforts are to hold government and corporate leaders more accountable.
To keep our planet from warming more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1.5 degrees Celsius) the world’s nations need to cut green-house gas emissions in half by 2030. The world leaders’ COP26 pledges (if they keep them) put us on track for warming of 1.8 Celsius according to the Climate Action Tracker. But others are reporting that their pledges place us on track for about 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 Celsius) warming which would be catastrophic. Next year, leaders have another chance at COP27. So, in 2022, it is crucial that we keep the pressure on governments, corporations, and financial institutions to end fossil fuels and build a just transition to a green global economy.
One of the most promising take-aways from the COP26 conference is that health-care voices were more central and amplified than at previous conferences, framing the climate crisis as a public health crisis. Before the conference, the Lancet and an unprecedented number of medical journals (more than 200!) published a call for governments to take emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health.
At the conference, the Healthy Climate Prescription letter, signed by over 45 million health professionals (including SF Bay PSR) from around the world, was delivered by the Climate and Health Alliance to COP26 leaders. YES magazine’s response to COP26 included a list of 10 reasons to be optimistic about climate solutions without being naïve, and reason number seven states “Increased focus on the link between the climate crisis and public health.” Meanwhile, the US Health and Human Services unveiled their Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan and Policy statement aligning the US healthcare sector with prior Paris Climate Agreement goals.
Here are more of our take-aways from COP26:
1. Overall, the COP26 agreement establishes a clear consensus that all nations need to do much more, claims to keep alive the goal of only 1.5C warming with 90% of the world now pledging to reach zero emissions, and it finalizes the outstanding elements of the Paris Climate Agreement. Here is the proposed agreement outline that is called a “non-paper” (that is truly the name). Here is the COP26 Agreement
2. Environmental injustice mirrors the unequal distribution of wealth—the countries that have benefited least from fossil fuel-powered growth are suffering the most from climate change.
3. Rich nations pledged over a decade ago to give $100 billion a year to the Green Climate Fund to help poorer nations adapt to climate change and transition to green energy. That has not happened, but they renewed their vow.
4. There is a huge gap between green-house gas emissions declared by nations and their actual emissions. Sometimes the discrepancies are due to outright deception, but they are often caused by countries using different measurement methods and calculations to obtain their data. READ the Washington Post investigation. READ MORE about emissions research at Stanford’s Global Carbon Project.
5. The leaders of Russia, Brazil, and China were not at COP26, but the fossil fuel companies had over 500 representatives there, more than any country. The good news is that efforts to counter the power of the fossil fuel industry are being stepped up. Below are three recent examples.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) was officially launched at COP26. BOGA is the first diplomatic initiative to bring together countries and jurisdictions that have committed to ending licensing for new oil and gas exploration and production and are setting an end date for their production, acknowledging the need for governments to manage the phase out of fossil fuel production as a key tool to address the climate crisis. READ the PRESS RELEASE
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (Global warming, like nuclear weapons, is a global existential threat) was first introduced in September and gained more support at COP26 with countries, cities, environmental groups, scientists, health institutions representing over 100,000 doctors, and others calling on governments to urgently commence negotiations to develop, adopt and implement the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty laying out a binding global plan to end new expansion of fossil fuel, phase out existing production of fossil fuels in a manner that is fair and equitable, and invest in a transformational plan to ensure 100% access to renewable energy globally, and support a global just transition. READ the TREATY
Back in the US, the Fossil Free Finance Act was first proposed by Senators Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley, and would require the Federal Reserve to ban the financing of any fossil fuel projects or activities, effectively cutting off the flow of funds from big banks. This bill is supported by major environmental NGOs and could serve to strengthen the growing movement for fossil-fuel divestment. READ MORE
6. A promising take-away from COP26 is that other proposals and agreements were developed during the conference including an agreement between China and US to cut emissions, 100 countries vowing to end deforestation by 2030, and more than 100 countries agreeing to cut emissions of methane by 30% by the end of this decade.
In summary, while far too-limited in its promises and concrete outcomes, COP26 provides us a basis for redoubling our efforts for the more substantive changes our collective survival requires.
We invite you to join us in strengthening our fight for planetary health by joining SF Bay PSR’s many actions, events, committee projects, support for community-led environmental justice initiatives, and mentorship of youth health activists who will inherit our world.
1. Please DONATE. We have an END-OF-YEAR MATCHING Gift Opportunity!
Help us to raise $20,000 by the end of 2021 and an anonymous donor will give us $20,000 more, effectively doubling the impact of your gift.
2. Join our committees and help with our ongoing projects in divestment, education, electrification of buildings and other infrastructure, and so much more. Email Tara@sfbaypsr.org.
3. Take action via our action alert emails and follow us on Twitter @SFBayPSR to make your voice heard by policy makers.